Cleaning up After Ourselves in Afghanistan

I read with interest the front-page article "Afghanistan Faces Disintegration as Rebel Factions Fight Each Other," Feb. 23. The media have been strangely quiet about the factional fighting that has ravaged Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, since last April. Reports indicate thousands of civilians have been killed, at least a third of the population has fled, and those remaining live in fear.

I visited Kabul last December and found a city in ruins. Whole city blocks were uninhabitable. Many buildings still standing have gaping holes and broken windows, offering little shelter from the frigid winter weather. By day, young men with automatic weapons slung casually around their shoulders sit on tanks or guard rocket launchers; at night they shell enemy factions and unfortunate civilians who frequently get caught in the crossfire. As the article points out, during the 1980s, the United States sup plied military assistance worth millions to mujahideen forces fighting the communist-backed government. Those groups have now turned their weapons on each other, and the US cannot ignore the ensuing tragedy.

In places like Afghanistan, as in Somalia, where now-forgotten cold-war rivalries have created large-scale human suffering, the US has a moral responsibility to become involved in disarmament, peacemaking, and relief efforts. We should find ways to clean up after ourselves. Pearl Sensenig, Lancaster, Pa. `Land of the free'

The Opinion page article "US Policy on Boat People Fleeing Haiti Is Sound," Feb. 18, offers some shoddy excuses for US immigration policy toward Haitians. The author justifies our present rejection of Haitians because, historically, the US has excluded certain immigrants such as Catholics, Quakers, Lutherans, Baptists, and Jews.

Do we now not understand the blatant bigotry in these targeted exclusions? To say that to enact a certain policy because it has historically been done is simply ludicrous. Countries should learn from their policy mistakes and not live by them. The author also states rather callously that Haitians should go somewhere else and not bother the United States. He suggests that Cuba, among other places, represents an adequate sanctuary to escape tyranny. If Cuba is so desirable, why are Cubans jumping on the fi rst available inner-tube and roughing the ocean waves to come to America?

America, if we are going to sing "land of the free," we'd better be prepared to live up to that conviction and cast away pathetic excuses to absolve our consciences about the Haitian boat people. Tonya S. Frisbey, Ithaca, Mich. Gun control

Regarding the editorial "Gun Control," Feb. 23: I am tired of hearing about the Second Amendment and the rights of the private citizen to bear arms. The wording of the amendment states plainly that the possession of arms is for the sake of a well-regulated militia. In other words, the owner of the gun is supposed to be working in concert with his neighbors in the capacity of a volunteer police-force.

Because today most of our communities already have police protection, the militia should be a working adjunct to the paid police. The use of weapons should then be given to the officer in charge of the militia, not to be assumed by anyone who has a score to settle, or who feels the pressures of unemployment violently. June Fine, Newton Hlds., Mass.

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